Whose Earth Is It? How postcolonial power relations are played out in Indonesian-Dutch translation
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Colonialism works by perceiving the native as less than human, a sentiment which is hard to shake off once the colony reaches a state of independence. This postcolonial relationship makes the translation of literary text from the colonial language to the empirical language in a traditional sense impossible. The power relations are too uneven, and the notion of what is 'foreign' and what is 'domestic' entirely unclear. This research targets literary translations from Bahasa Indonesia to Dutch, as an example of how great an influence colonialism and postcolonialism has on the relationship between two cultures and translations between them. In this thesis the Dutch and English translations of the novel Bumi Manusia by Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer are investigated for colonial and postcolonial traces in formality, rhythm, observation, tone, borrowings and cultural specific items. The conclusion is confrontational for Dutch translators of literary works from Bahasa Indonesia. Because it is exactly this focus on the colonial past in terms of for example content or word choice that make traditional Indonesian culture secondary, perpetuating the post-colonial relationship.